To say Christi Allen Franchini is enthusiastic is like saying the Florida Keys has nice weather. Her smile is as unlimited as her spirit and her aspirations benefit from both. She is the CEO of Pilates in Paradise, mother to Mikayla, wife of Victor and a quasi-messiah to her legion of dedicated clients – all of whom she calls personal friends.
Christi landed in Monroe County about 17 years ago as a personal trainer with a degree in business. Since then, her resume has grown with her business acumen and includes past board positions with organizations like the Key Largo Chamber, GLEE and the American Cancer Society.
Your dad was in the U.S. Army and you lived all over the place growing up, including Texas and Germany. What was it like to be in Europe as a senior in high school? It was so awesome. The military offers tours, so you could take these bus trips anywhere in Europe, so I saw a lot of Europe. Also, there was no drinking age, so my senior year was a blur.
What was college like for you at Washington State? I wanted to be a veterinarian and I was given a full academic scholarship and a full scholarship for room and books. My freshman year I had the same classes I had in high school, so I didn’t attend many classes and thought I would just breeze through. I failed my first year and was kicked out of school. Then, I had to reapply and was put on academic probation.
After busting out your first year, what got you turned around? My parents cut me off, so I got student loans and a full-time job and worked my way through college. I then switched majors to communication with an emphasis on advertising with a minor in business, emphasizing marketing because I wasn’t going to vet school with a 1.7 GPA.
Your first business was a clothing boutique in Tallassee, Florida. What did you learn there? You cannot walk in when you open and lock the doors when you leave and not put any time in other than that. I loved saying I owned the business, but I didn’t put the time in. It was my personal closet. I took one of everything in the store.
What kind of advice do you have for someone who recently relocated to the Keys with the dream of starting their own business? Beware of having a business with too many workers, because it is hard finding the staff. Especially after Irma. Get involved in your local community. We take care of each other and community service is the best way to network.
After you closed the clothing boutique, you were searching for a new career and decided to become a personal trainer. How did you make that leap? I had five qualifications: I wanted to interact with new people every day. I could not wear a suit or be in an office – ever. It had to be in fitness and I wanted to make my own hours and make lots of money. I knew I was going to become a personal trainer. I don’t know how, but I would figure it out.
You opened Pilates in Paradise in 2002 and have studied in New York with renowned Pilates master Romana Kryzanowska. Can you explain the difference between Pilates and yoga? Pilates was designed by a man for men and is functional movement taught through exercise. Joseph Pilates created it to build strength and conditioning as the art and science of control. In Pilates we use an apparatus. Machines do work for you; the apparatus is designed for you to do the work. Pilates classes are small. You get a lot of personal attention.
Who should be using Pilates? Everyone. From couch potatoes that need to get moving to athletes who need to straighten out muscle imbalances and enhance athletic performance. When your body is balanced it moves more efficiently.
What does Pilates do for the regular person who just goes to work every day? Pilates gives you the energy and ability outside of work. Your body has capabilities. That came to mind when dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Hauling stuff, cleaning, lifting, moving. The activities of our bodies were called upon more than others. Imagine when you have been at your desk for a long time. How does your neck and back feel? Tight, uncomfortable, weak, weighted? Pilates unkinks the day’s stresses away and gives you the freedom, strength and energy to do anything you want to do outside of work.
You graduated from Leadership Monroe County as a member of Class XVII. Why is that considered the best class? Because we were in it. Our “Barely Legal” class created Florida Keys Day.
If you could give a one-on-one Pilates session to anyone alive or dead, who would it be and why? I wouldn’t mind having Matthew McConaughey. He is so hot, but when I saw him in Magic Mike his posture was horrible I would put him on “the reformer” and fix him. Or him and Brad Pitt together. That would be a really hot session.
What is your biggest pet peeve? People not recycling, and plastic bag usage.
What is your most sinful guilty pleasure (that we can print)? Tequila. It’s my daily medicine. Its good for the gut, you know!
Who is the one person on the November ballot who has already earned your vote and why? After 16 years of dealing with a wide range of people and views daily, i never discuss politics!
You are stranded on a desert island; what are five things you can’t live without? Coconuts, machette, tequila, a hat and some suncreen.
Tea or coffee? Coffee! With my work schedule there are many days I wish I had a coffee IV.
Hollywood comes knocking and is going to make a movie based on your life. Who plays you? Me of course! Put me in front of the camera and watch me shine!